Jayson Tatum/Brynn Anderson/AP
The NBA Playoffs have been exciting so far, and they are only going to get better. This year, some of the league’s top players have put their teams on their backs, and have carried their squads to victory. And as the first round nearly comes to an end, some of these players will look to do the same in the second round. Here are three of the top performers in the playoffs this year.
1.) Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat
Jimmy Butler has been phenomenal. In Game 4 of their series against the Milwaukee Bucks, Butler had an exceptional game. He finished the game with 56 points, which made him the sixth player in NBA history to have 56 or more points in a playoff game. He also had the fourth highest total, as Michael Jordan has the record for most points in a playoff game. Jordan scored 63 points in 1986. Elgin Baylor scored 61 in 1962. Then, in 2020, Donovan Mitchell scored 57.
In Game 5 of the series, Butler had another great performance as he scored 42 points. He helped force the game into overtime, and in the end, he and the eighth seed Miami Heat sent the first seed Milwaukee Bucks home.
Butler is playing well and as the Heat prepare for their next series, he is going to be key to their success.
2.) Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks
The New York Knicks are headed to the second round for the first time since 2013, and Jalen Brunson is a big reason for that. The Knicks signed Brunson over the summer, and he has been their go-to guy ever since. While this was a series that could have gone either way, the Cleveland Cavaliers were expected to win and advance to the next round. Not on Brunson’s watch!
Brunson was consistent throughout the series, as he scored 20 or more in each game. His best game was in Game 4, where he scored 29 points. He also shot 50 percent from the field.
The Cavaliers had trouble slowing Brunson down, and even in games where he shot poorly (like how he shot 29 percent in Game 2), he made an impact. Brunson is a talented player who led his team to their win over Cleveland, and if he does the same against Miami, the Knicks could be a team to look out for.
3.) Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
Jayson Tatum and the Celtics are on a mission. They were so close to winning a championship last season, and they have a good chance at winning one this year.
Tatum averaged 27.2 points in the series against the Atlanta Hawks. He scored 31 points in Game 4 and in Game 6, he had 30 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists and two blocks. Tatum’s lowest scoring game was 19 in Game 5. Tatum has played well in this year’s playoffs, and the Celtics will need him down the stretch. He will continue to perform at a high level in their next series and beyond (if they get past the next round).
There have been great performances from a number of players, including some that were not named in this article. But in terms of consistency and remaining in the playoffs, these three lead the way.